Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the right age to begin learning?
- How long will the entire course take?
- What do we do if a student has never used a phonics method before?
- What is so good about a phonics literacy program?
- Are Fitzroy educational materials expensive?
- What is the main advantage of learning with the Fitzroy Method?
- Will the course work for students with learning difficulties?
- Is the Fitzroy Method successful with dyslexic students?
- What is the difference between a letter name and a letter sound?
- Will my child read fluently by the end of the course?
- Can I mix reading programs?
- If I want to help my child learn to read at home, what can I do to understand more about the Fitzroy Method?
- What do users say about the Fitzroy Method?
For a fuller understanding of how phonics programmes work, try our free phonics e-course for parents.
As could be expected, the right age to begin learning to read and write varies from child to child. As a general guideline, children generally will not have any problems starting the Fitzroy Method after four years of age. By then their spoken English - or general development if they are from a non-English speaking country - is of a sufficient level to understand the program.
Many children can begin at a younger age, however. It is not uncommon for children to start at three years of age, and some even begin at two to two and a half.
The main point to remember if you are considering starting your child before four years of age is that he or she needs to be both mentally and psychologically ready to begin.
Some children might find learning to read and write too difficult if they begin early, while others - who might intellectually be capable - are not emotionally ready to sit still and learn.
If your child is not ready - for whatever reason - it is best to wait a while longer before starting to learn to read and write.
If you don't, there is the danger that reading and writing will become a negative experience for your child. If that happens, you will run up against a psychological barrier every time you wish to sit your child down for a lesson.
The time the course takes to complete depends primarily on the number of hours a student attends per week at the Fitzroy Learning Centres and how old he or she is.
Originally, the entire course was designed to be completed by the end of primary school, i.e. after six or seven years. Here, the 70 Readers are generally finished a little earlier than the rest of the study materials - usually some time in the final two years of primary.
Since the Fitzroy Learning Centres are usually used as English enrichment classes that support the ones students are already taking at school, however, then the course can often be completed more quickly. All the more so since our teachers are specifically trained in the Fitzroy Method, unlike most teachers who use it.
Apart from the number of hours students attend per week, their age and aptitude also play a part in the speed with which they complete the course. For a precise evaluation of the timeframe your child will need, however, please contact your local Fitzroy Learning Centre.
Since every level of our program builds on the ones before it, we will need to do some catch up work, even if the student coming to us is already a solid reader.
The reason for this is that our program systematically teaches all of the phonics building blocks - none of which can be lacking without creating difficulties later on.
This does not mean that older students will need to go back to level 1 and start our program from there. It is possible to skip ahead to the appropriate reading level. But in order to do so, some preparation will be required to ensure students are not missing key phonics knowledge.
Fortunately, our system has an effective method for getting students up to speed and, even though this may mean spending some time revising phonics basics, later on, as a result, students will be able to progress more rapidly.
In some ways it is a question of taking one step backwards to take two steps forwards. Take the time to get the foundation right, and everything else will follow smoothly after that.
What is more, students who get the right phonics foundation tend not only to gain new reading confidence, they also very often increase the speed with which they learn.
The wonderful thing about a phonics literacy program is that as soon as students have learnt the 26 basic letter sounds they can already start to read and write thousands of English words - even ones they have never seen before.
For a more detailed explanation of how phonics systems work, visit our Phonics Explained webpage.
While educational material for the complete Fitzoy Method program is more expensive than some others to begin with, in the long run it represents very good value for money.
The reason for this that the Fitzroy Method contains no unnecessary teaching materials. This means you will never pay for anything that doesn't add real educational value to our program.
Many other courses include all sorts of bits and pieces that add very little real value, thereby adding greatly to the final cost of the program, even if, individually, each item is relatively cheap.
When thinking about price, it is important to ask yourself how valuable an excellent education is for your child.
As the saying goes: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!"
In fact, not only is it systematic, it is arguably the most systematic primary level phonics program available in the world today.
This means that your child will always feel on top of the reading and writing learning process, since every step of the way is carefully calibrated.
The result of this is that every Reader - and reading level - always appears easy to read. This creates a series of success experiences that boost confidence and encourage your child to continue learning.
Just as importantly, the systematic approach guarantees that your child - even if not blessed with huge amounts of reading and writing talent - will nevertheless learn to read and write fluently.
The Fitzroy Method works particularly well for children with learning difficulties. In fact, over three and a half thousand Australian schools have invested in our teaching materials, many using them for enrichment (special needs) classes.
The three main reasons our phonics program works so well for children with learning difficulties are:
- Phonics programs are logical. That means that children learn to 'decode' words, making it unnecessary to remember thousands upon thousands of new words. All they need to learn are some simple spelling rules and patterns and they can read huge quantities of words - including ones they haven't seen before!
- The Fitzroy Method is systematic. This creates an environment where even slower learners readily understand what they are being taught, because no step in the learning process is ever too great.
By taking many small steps, each step becomes easy and enjoyable.
- Our Fitzroy Learning Centres have small classes with teachers specifically trained in the Fitzroy Method. This enables them to expertly locate and then attend to any difficulties an individual student has.
Since phonics methods teach children to sound out words, this makes it far easier to remember the correct placement of letters in words than it is with other systems. To spell a word correctly, you just need to sound it out in its component parts.
The Fitzroy Method systematically teaches all basic letter sounds, digraphs, spelling rules and special (sight) words that a child needs to sound out even relatively complex texts. This means that while dyslexic students will take longer to learn to read and write than other students, with time and patience they can still reach a high level of literacy.
The letter name is what we normally say when talking about a letter or spelling out a word, e.g. Cee, Ay, Tee, for cat. The letter sound is the sound the letter makes, i.e. c as in cap, a as in apple and t as in top.
In phonics programs like the Fitzroy Method, it is more important to teach students the letter sounds. It is these letter sounds that help students to read - not the letter names.
For more information, see our free phonics e-course for parents
Children who have completed our course will be fluent in English reading, writing and grammar.
As a result, they will have no difficulty reading a great many newspapers, magazines and novels.
(Note: Where the course is being taught to EFL students - i.e. English as a foreign language - some difficulties may still exist with vocabulary, even if students will - by and large - be capable of reading [if not comprehending] almost every word in the novel, newspaper or magazine).
Most students will actually find that they are capable of reading simple general literature - like the Choose Your Own Adventure Books - by the time they reach levels 45-60.
At the conclusion of the course, students usually move on to Harry Potter and the like without much difficulty.
The Fitzroy Method is systematic and complete. As such, there is no need to mix it with any other programs.
Most students will be attending English lessons elsewhere, of course, and that is not a problem. Our centres are designed to work under such circumstances.
The only danger is that students studying with us will get too far ahead of the rest of their classmates!
If I want to help my child learn to read at home, what can I do to understand more about the Fitzroy Method?
The best place to learn how to effectively use the Fitzroy Method teaching materials is by attending one of our fully certified Fitzroy Method Professional Development Courses.
These courses are held throughout Australia, as well as in Singapore, Malaysia and, periodically, Thailand.
To find out where the next course is, go to the phonics courses information page.
Users unanimously love the Fitzroy Method. It's easy to understand; the results are rapid - and it has a long history of giving struggling readers new confidence. Have a look at some of our testimonials.